Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has received a prestigious national award for a fire safety campaign from Alarm, the public risk management association.
The service's 2010 Bonfire Campaign was winner of the 2011 Alarm Community Risk Management Award. The campaign was launched in October 2010 and used hard hitting tactics, producing an emotive educational DVD called 'The Journey' about Connor Rowntree, a young man from the region who was severely burned in an accident involving fire.
The DVD was used to provide a stark reminder to children and young people in schools about the dangers of illegal bonfires and fireworks misuse, and encouraged them and their families to attend organised displays. In addition, posters were distributed across schools in the area and a proactive public relations campaign, including social media, was used to encourage people to attend organised displays and report unlit bonfires to their local authority.
Service delivery staff visited schools in the area to present the DVD and give talks featuring the bonfire and firework safety messages. Firefighters also carried out a series of inspections of retail outlets to make sure fireworks were stored safely and parents and shopkeepers were asked to be vigilant to make sure that under 18s did not get hold of fireworks.
The success of the campaign led to a reduction in calls and number of incidents attended, as well as a reduction in injuries, most notably:
Between Monday, 1 November and Saturday, 6 November 2010, compared to the same period in 2009, there was a:
• 14% reduction in the number of calls to Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service's control room (1,123 calls in 2010 compared to 1,305 in 2009)
• 9% reduction in the total number of deliberate secondary (rubbish) fires attended in Tyne and Wear (351 in 2010 compared to 386 in 2009)
• 10% reduction in the total number of incidents attended by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue (717 in 2010 compared to 799 in 2009)
• 33% reduction in property fires attended by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue (48 in 2010 compared to 72 in 2009)
• Reduction in hoax calls attended by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue (9 in 2010 compared to 10 in 2009)
• Increase in attacks on firefighters (11 in 2010 compared with 7 in 2009)
• Reduction in the number of bonfire and firework related injuries on bonfire night (three in 2010 compared with 10 in 2009).
Area Manager for Community Safety, John Baines, said: "We are delighted to have been recognised once again for our work in reducing the risk to the public at what is undoubtedly our busiest time of the year. The award recognises the innovative approach we have undertaken to reduce the number of injuries around bonfire night year on year.
"However, although injuries from bonfires and fireworks are reducing, even one injury is still too many and we will continue to work hard to drive down risks even further, along with our partners like the police and local authorities, so that public can enjoy a safe and enjoyable bonfire night every year."
Alarm Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lynn Drennan, said: "The Alarm Annual Risk Management Awards recognise initiatives that are not only innovative, but are also examples of risk management best practice within public services. Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service's entry for the 2011 Alarm Community Risk Management Award is an excellent example of how risk management can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of the community it serves."
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